December 16, 2005

Vietnam flood toll rises to 32, rice crop damaged

HANOI (Reuters) - Flash floods triggered by prolonged rains
in central Vietnam have killed at least 32 people in recent
weeks and damaged rice crops, officials said on Friday.

Rains which began in late November have inundated more than
30,000 hectares (74,130 acres) of newly-planted rice crops in
the central provinces of Binh Dinh, Ninh Thuan and Quang Ngai,
officials from the Committee for Flood and Storm Control told

"The weather is quite abnormal this year, waters in rivers
in the central region have started to recede but we expect new
rains over the weekend so people should stay alert," said an
official from the center in central city of Danang.

He said the official death toll from four central provinces
of Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen, had risen to
32 and at least eight people remained missing after being
washed away by flash floods.

Heavy rains also triggered landslides in the central
region, damaging roads and disrupting traffic.

Weather forecasters in the country's top coffee-growing
province of Daklak told Reuters the rains had temporarily
stopped on Friday but they expected more rains over the

Prolonged rains in Vietnam's Central Highlands coffee belt
have delayed the coffee harvest there and made it difficult for
farmers to dry newly-picked coffee cherries.